Semaj Lewis won’t wow you with his size.
He stands just 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds.
But the De La Salle senior cornerback more than makes up for it with his speed.
He will take that speed to the state of Texas next season after committing to Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday.
“I liked their coaching staff, and it’s a great football program with great facilities,” Lewis said. “They did a really job of recruiting me, showing a lot of interest.”
Lewis also had offers from McNeese State and North Texas and had drawn interest from Louisiana-Lafayette.
“I just prayed on it and my family and I decided it was the right time to commit,” said Lewis.
He can make the commitment official on Feb. 3, National Signing Day.
Lewis was a four-sport athlete at De La Salle as a freshman and sophomore but gave up basketball his junior season and just played football, baseball and track.
“It’s really tough doing all three sports, Lewis said. “I just have to stay focused, both in the classroom and in sports.”
Despite the heavy workload, he plans to continue running track in college though. He runs the 100 and 200 meters and two relays. At the Class 3A state track meet, he finished fifth in the 100 and third in the 200 meters and also helped the 4x100 relay team finish third in the Class 3A meet.
“His speed is what makes him special,” De La Salle coach Ryan Manale said. “The fastest I have seen him do this summer (in the 40) was a 4.38 and the slowest was a 4.41. He is extremely fast.”
And he has good football genes.
Lewis is the brother of ex-LSU defensive back Jai Eugene, a former star at Destrehan who now coaches defensive backs at De La Salle.
“With Jai being his brother, we knew he had a chance to be pretty good,” Manale said. “Semaj started as a freshman for us but struggled some. But last year we saw him really mature and come around.”
Lewis finished the season with three interceptions and helped the Cavaliers finish 8-4 and reach the quarterfinals of the Division II playoffs. He has even loftier goals this season.
“I just want us to come together as a team as one and just take it day by day and hopefully we can get to the playoffs and get to state,” Lewis said.
Lewis is the second De La Salle player to commit, joining receiver Christian Booker, who pledged to Nicholls State last week.
They both have been trying to recruit the other to their respective schools, but neither seems to be budging.
“I’m pretty solid,” Lewis said.
Manale said it’s the first time in his four seasons that the Cavaliers have had two players to commit before the season starts.
“Stephen F. Austin is getting a very good player with a lot of upside,” Manale said.
See The New Orleans preps blog at TheNewOrleansAdvocate.com for a full list of football commitments from the New Orleans area.